INDIANAPOLIS — After Monday’s mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado where a man killed 10 people in a grocery store, WRTV is looking into our local police department’s training to respond to something like this.
“It’s a reality check,” Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Jeremy Steward said. “It hits home. It makes us realize that this is a dangerous job. And when someone is actively killing, it’s on us to stop it. The city has entrusted us with giving us badges and guns and the lawful authority to neutralize that threat, and that weighs on our shoulders.”
For the last several years, all of IMPD’s recruits have had extensive training in active killer situations. Even after the academy, districts have ongoing training. Steward says they will use exactly what happened in Boulder in their next training in May.
“What we teach recruits is hey, this just happened,” he said. “This just happened two months ago and it is going to happen here and you have to prepare yourself for it.”
IMPD is constantly implementing actual scenarios that have happened around the country so they’re prepared for anything.
“It gives substance or validation through our training that we’re not just randomly throwing out the scenarios but they’re based on real-life events,” Steward said.
They use role players to come in and create chaos, firing simulation rounds at officers, similar to paintballs.
“The whole idea of doing our active killer training is to make it as realistic as possible,” he said. “To make it as chaotic as possible to use one active killer maybe two or maybe multiple. And then to train our officers that there is a way to technically go about doing this. It’s not a free-for-all. There is a tactical way to mitigate your risk but you still neutralize the threat.”
Steward said there’s no national standard for how police departments respond to active shooters. The foundation is to find the threat and neutralize it. But how agencies go about that may be different.
“We are to go direct to threat," Steward said. "This may be a little counterintuitive for police officers and for civilians. But when we get to mass casualty event, we have to move past people that are injured, we have to move past people that are hurt, we may have to move past people that are required immediate medical aid.”
He said their officers are trained to do this as a single officer. Or if other officers are there, they will pair up in teams of two. Events like these make regularly stopping by businesses and schools in their district to get the lay of the land and understand the perimeter, critical.
“Knowing the layout is half the battle,” Steward said. “Getting to that threat as quickly as possible because he’s been in that stretch before whether that’s a business or a church, and our officers do that.”
Knowing the burden lies with them to stop events like what happened Monday, “it is a harsh reality but it’s what we signed up for,” Steward said. “The reason most of us got into this job is to be a part of something that’s bigger than us. So if I have to sacrifice my safety to save it and save a third party, that’s well worth it.”